Current Projects

The Neighborhood Attitudes about Supportive Housing (NASH) Study

The Neighborhood Attitudes about Supportive Housing (NASH) study, funded by a Portland State University faculty enhancement grant, aims to assess the community experiences and attitudes of individuals residing in close proximity to mental health supportive housing.  In addition to asking general questions about residents’ attitudes, activities, and relationships with neighbors, the study aims to understand how neighbors of community-based housing for individuals with psychiatric disabilities in Portland, Oregon perceive and engage with the housing facilities and residents. This project is a follow-up to the CHARP Study, conducted with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in the summer of 2013 in Portland, Oregon, examining supportive housing residents’ perceptions of their neighborhood and community inclusion. The NASH study utilizes a mixed-methods design.  We are conducting surveys with 150 to 200 residents, 20 to 30 of whom will be selected to participate in semi-structured qualitative interviews.  We hope to be able to provide suggestions and best practices for siting future supportive housing units and creating linkages between residents of supportive housing and their neighbors.

Understanding Factors Associated with Community Participation

The majority of current research on community participation, or “a person’s involvement in a life situation,” such as education, employment, recreation, and civic activities, has been consistent with an individual model of disability.  Research has focused on how participation may be affected by an individual’s health conditions (e.g., diagnosis, cognitive factors) and personal factors (e.g., demographics, motivation).  In collaboration with the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion (Mark Salzer, PI), this study, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) aims to better understand the influence of environmental factors (e.g., proximity to resources, walkable neighborhoods, and supportive relationships with community members) on community participation.  We are interviewing 300 individuals with psychiatric disabilities utilizing publicly funded community mental health services in geographically diverse areas across the country, as well as 300 individuals who do not have a diagnosed mental illness.  Findings from this study will lead to the development of new policy, program, and practice interventions aimed at increasing the ability of individuals with mental health challenges to participate actively in their communities.

From Street to Home Photovoice Project

Photovoice is defined as “a process by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through specific photographic techniques” (Wang & Burris, 1997).  For this project a total of 11 individuals with lived experiences of homelessness were recruited from HEARTH, a Community-based Participatory Research Collaborative including Central City Concern consumers and staff and researchers from PSU, OHSU, and NCNM (please click here to learn more about HEARTH).  Participants received training in the photovoice method, took hundreds of pictures representing the theme “from street to home”, selected their favorite pictures, and discussed the meaning and significance of these images in a series of group discussions.  Photographs were then placed into the following categories: “Street”, “Getting there”, and “Home.”  Our first photo exhibit was held on June 2nd.  Stay tuned for details about future exhibits and presentations of this work, and see the project team and sample photos below! View the Central City Concern photovoice album here.